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First Time Stories: Taylor Swift and Her Friends Sat in Her Car to Hear ‘Tim McGraw’

Taylor Swift Grand Ole Opry debut
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

It’s no exaggeration to say that Taylor Swift has taken the world by storm since she landed her record deal with Big Machine Label Group and released her self-titled debut album back in 2006: The country-turned-pop superstar has earned award after award, racked up countless platinum album certifications and No. 1 songs and become one of music’s biggest superstars. Still, even Swift had to start somewhere — and, below, she remembers being a brand-new artist waiting to hear herself on the radio.

I was 16, and the Big 98 [WSIX] in Nashville played “Tim McGraw” in a song challenge one evening. My high school friends and I all sat in my convertible with the top down in my driveway and blasted it. Then, listeners called in and said whether they liked it or not, and I remember being more nervous than I’d ever been. Thankfully, they said nice things. I’ll never forget that feeling!

I moved [to Nashville] when I was in the end of my eighth grade year. I remember, back in Pennsylvania, it was kind of an oddity that I loved music and I was really trying to pursue it … almost to the point where it set me apart from other kids, and I spent a lot of time alone. But when I moved to Hendersonville, [Tenn.], they didn’t think it was a weird thing at all that I loved music that much. Their neighbors were producers, and their dad was a songwriter, so it wasn’t such a big deal to them that I was so immersed in music. I loved that.

This story was originally written by Pat Gallagher, and revised by Angela Stefano.

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